Reviewed by Emily Henderson, B.Sc.May 19 2020
Researchers from Prokhorov General Physics Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology have developed a novel method for diagnosing and monitoring autoimmune disorders. Within a mere 25 minutes, their new biosensor not only measures the concentration of autoantibodies in human blood serum with extremely high sensitivity, but also -- for the first time -- quantifies their activity. The combination of these parameters permits the elaboration of new diagnostic criteria for autoimmune diseases, as well as new approaches to their treatment. The paper was published in Biosensors and Bioelectronics, the highest-ranking scientific journal in the field of biosensing technology and analytical chemistry.
Autoantibodies produced by the immune system misinterpret the organism's cells and organs as targets, causing autoimmune disorders. The autoantibodies are associated with more than 80 serious autoimmune diseases ranging from rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, and lupus to Multiple Sclerosis and Type 1 diabetes. Many of them require lifelong care and treatment to alleviate suffering. Autoantibodies are present in the blood of about 10% of the population. Due to a high prevalence of autoimmune disorders, the economic impact is enormous and is estimated for some countries as twice that of cancer. Autoantibodies appear in blood long before clinical onset, and their characteristics can be used to foresee disease activity and severity.
Currently, the treatment of autoimmune diseases is substantially complicated due to dramatic variations in the results of commercial tests by different manufacturers.
"Depending on the laboratory running the test, and the method used, the autoantibody concentration measured in the same sample at the same time may vary by a factor of 10," says one of the paper's authors Alexey Orlov, a senior scientist of the Biophotonics Lab at GPI RAS and Nanobiotechnology Lab at MIPT, a 2010 graduate of MIPT. "In fact, no one could rely on autoantibody concentration as a quantitative parameter to evaluate therapy efficiency."